After he was fired from his executive job, Michael Gates Gill was devastated. Soon after he was laid off and got divorced - and when he thought things couldn't get any worse, he got diagnosed with a brain tumor.
At the lowest point in his life, Michael walked into a Starbucks store while it was holding a jobs fair. On a whim he applied for a position.
Starbucks may be $4 cup of coffee to you and me, but to Michael, it was a lifesaver:
After 26 years at J. Walter Thompson, a leading advertising agency, the then 63-year-old Gill was invited to an early breakfast and was told that he was getting the boot. He made too much money. Someone younger would work for less, he was told.
"Never go out to breakfast," he warns before bursting into laughter. "It's like the Mafia. You will never return."
He can joke about it now, but Gill says he was devastated by his firing. "I remember walking outside and bursting into tears," he says over a steaming cup of coffee at his current place of employment, a Starbucks in Bronxville, New York. "I was stunned. I knew that that part of my life was over."
That was just the start of a terrible reversal of fortune. In a few short years, Gill, the Yale-educated son of the famed New Yorker writer Brendan Gill, closed the consulting business he started after he was laid off, got divorced and was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He had hit both the rock and the bottom and was continuing to fall.
A trip to Starbucks would irrevocably change his life, he says. Unbeknownst to him, the coffee shop was holding a hiring fair the morning he walked in for his daily dose of caffeine. A manager approached him and asked if he would like to apply for a job. Without thinking, he said yes.